Jeanne of the Bookblog of the Bristol Library is back today with her latest Treadmill Books Review…
Treadmill Books: Deep Fried Mysteries by Linda Reilly
As this series opens, Talia Marby has returned to her hometown in the Berkshires to work for Bea and Howie Lambert, owners of a fish and chips shop in a faux English village shopping center. The benefit is mutual: it gives Talia time to job search while Howie is recovering in the hospital. An annoying neighborhood shop owner tries to bully Bea into signing a petition and in response she mutters vague threats that are bread and butter in the cozy mystery biz because they give the police an excuse to suspect someone the heroine is bound to defend.
The characters are a bit better defined than in some cozy series, though there’s still a bit of the “mean for mean’s sake” character to give the reader someone to detest. I give Reilly credit for allowing some characters to be prickly and for introducing a recurring character with dementia. I definitely liked Talia’s “can do” attitude, even if she does confront killers on a regular basis—though she would insist that was not her intention.
The setting is a bit vague, but delineated enough to be definitely New England. I do appreciate that Talia actually does work in between solving crimes. She has a number of practical work-related things to consider, from renovating the shop to promotion to menu tweaks. Those sorts of details might not appeal to everyone but I do like it when a book’s characters have to actually earn a living instead of working when it’s convenient.
The plots aren’t particularly innovative, but the clues can be. Several hinge on not quite obscure bits of information, and the author does play fair. I enjoyed spotting the clues; they remind me of the old detective stories where an attentive reader had a good chance to solve the mystery based on, say, a bouquet of trefoil. I always found those to be a lot of fun, giving me a ridiculous sense of accomplishment for knowing that trefoils meant “revenge.”
The adorable little calico cat who adorns the covers does indeed show up in the books. She doesn’t solve any mysteries but she’s cute.
This is a cheerful series with enjoyable characters and a devotion to fried food. Talia, first worker and then shop owner, loves to try her hand at deep frying everything from pickles to cheesecake and making it all sound luscious. Recipes are included, of course. I don’t think they need to be read in order, although I did.
Since it kept me turning pages, I’ll call this one a good treadmill book even if it did make me crave fish and chips. After all, making a run to the local Long John Silver’s would defeat the whole treadmill trudge.
The books in the series are:
1 1. Fillet of Murder
2 2. Out of the Dying Pan
3 3. A Frying Shame